NEW LONDON, Conn. – Mike Schwartz left nothing to chance when he built the new Mike's Famous Harley-Davidson. The 55,000-sq.-ft. dealership that opened a couple of months ago in an old Coca-Cola bottling plant even has its own radio station.
The dealership opened without fanfare in late February after a four-month renovation of the old Coke plant. Instead of shedding its industrial heritage, Schwartz embraced the original warehouse aesthetic with reclaimed doorways, steel trusses, warehouse-style windows and high tongue-and-groove ceilings.
"Over 300 people contributed ideas throughout the building," Liz Ferrari, business development manager told The Day.
The new store is four times the size of the former location in Groton. It features a drive-in service shop, much larger area for gear and apparel, and plenty of room to show off 200 Harleys, plus vehicles by Sea-Doo, Polaris and Can-Am. A custom radio station called Mike's Famous Radio that pipes in a selection of more than 2,000 mostly classic-rock songs.
"These are songs that evoke thoughts of the road," Schwartz said. That makes a great background for customers waiting by the gas fireplace in the customer lounge.
The new store employs 42 full-time workers and seven part-timers. The space is so open that one sales employee, Lois Hollenbeck, gets around the building on neon pink roller skates. "The building is just so big it was practical for her to do it," Schwartz said. He doesn’t mind answering questions about "the girl selling motorcycles with pink roller skates."
The new store has increased business 60 percent over the same month last year, Schwartz said, even though he hasn't done any traditional advertising. He plans to ramp for the official grand opening in September.
Schwartz said the New London store is among the largest motorcycle operations in the world. In addition to the huge sales and service space, the property includes a large parking area to accommodate events,
Posted by Holly Wagner